ASHLAND — There was a giddiness about the Ashland County Commissioners meeting on Thursday.
“I was going to wear a Santa hat today,” said Michael Welch, soon after he and the other commissioners approved just over $2.9 million to nine communities around the county for various water and sewer projects.
Mayors and representatives from eight villages and the City of Ashland gathered Thursday to receive funds from Ashland County’s American Rescue Plan Act allocation, which will total $10,388,640 over the next two years.
Thursday’s awards are in addition to ARP funding villages and townships are slated to receive. Search the chart below to see those figures:
“I can’t tell you how good it feels to be able to help these communities,” said Denny Bittle, president of the Ashland County Commissioners. “We’ve just been blessed with the ability to get millions of dollars of funding to be able to help out our local county residents. It’s an exciting time.”
The $1.9 trillion spending package, known as ARPA, was enacted by President Joe Biden in March. The package allocated $350 billion total for states, localities, tribes and territories throughout the U.S.
In Ohio, state government will receive $5.6 billion, cities over 50,000 people (considered “metro” cities) will receive $2.2 billion. Counties will get $2.2 billion.
Townships and villages, places with populations below 50,000, will get $815 million — thanks to a law passed in June that qualified the entities to receive the federal money.
Ashland County was one of the first in Ohio to divvy up its share of ARP money, said Welch. He said he’s spoken with several surrounding counties’ commissioners who tell him they haven’t started making decisions on how to use the funds.
Governments have until the end of 2024 to appropriate the money and must spend it by the end of 2026.
“It’s been the goal of the board to pass this money around the county,” he said. “We’re trying to affect as many residents in a positive manner.”
Funds received from the county on Thursday can also be used as matching dollars for other state grants, Welch said.
Commissioner Jim Justice, who is a former mayor of Hayesville, said he knows how hard it is for smaller communities to secure funding for important projects.
“To get those funds and the ability to pass them down is a rare, rare thing and all of us are genuinely thankful we’re able to do this for you,” Justice said, addressing village mayors.
Keep reading for a brief summary of each community that received ARP funding Thursday.
City of Ashland
Mayor Matt Miller came Thursday to talk about the city’s project that involves repairing a water tower at the intersection of Claremont Avenue and Baney Road.
The project is estimated to cost anywhere from $660,000 to $800,000, Miller said.
County commissioners approved $250,000 for the project, which includes rehabilitating the interior of the tank, repairing a foundation issue and painting the exterior a blue color and including the city’s logo.
Village of Bailey Lakes
The village was granted $220,000 toward its wastewater treatment plant improvements project. Mayor John Benshoff said the plant currently serves 371 residents and around 140 customers are on the system.
The county’s grant would cover the entirety of the project, Benshoff said. It includes converting the facility’s chlorine treatment system to one that uses ultraviolet technology and replacing a 50-year-old trash trap.
“We think it would be safer for the environment and also the workers. Not to mention it would also save money,” Benshoff said.
Village of Hayesville
Mayor Bob Vinsack said he was speechless after receiving a $500,000 grant from the county’s ARP allocation.
Vinsack said the village’s water treatment plant is around 60 years-old and serves 500 people. The system includes three wells.
“So if one goes down, we’re done. It’s a critical situation,” he said, adding the village began the process of replacing the system around six years ago. The entire project is estimated to cost $2.6 million.
“For the village to take that on, it would be a burden on the residents. That’s why we’re seeking as much as we can,” Vinsack said.
Village of Jeromesville
The village received $500,000 on Thursday to replace aging water lines. The entire project is estimated to cost $1.6 million. Mayor Randy Spade said the village is “very grateful” for the money.
“This was the number one on our list. This is the most critical issue that faces Jeromesville at least for the next decade,” Spade said, adding the system serves 248 households, 564 people, 13 businesses and part of Hillsdale School District.
Spade said some of the village’s water lines were installed in the 1930s; two of the lines were replaced in the 1990s and then another in the early 2000s.
Village of Loudonville
The village received $376,275 to help pay for the replacement of aging water meters.
Mayor Jason VanSickle said the meters are around 30 years old. The money would replace 1,050 meters to touchless, digital meters. He hoped to get the project started as soon as possible.
Village of Mifflin
Mayor Vickie Shultz and Business Administrator Tim Echelberry said the $200,000 from the county would go toward replacing components of the six-year-old wastewater treatment plant that are made in China — which is causing problems in shipping.
The wastewater treatment plant overflowed and dumped partially untreated sewage into an unnamed creek in May, prompting an investigation by the state’s Environmental Protection Agency.
The village expects replacing its ultraviolet treatment system and other filtration systems would cost around $326,000.
“This would help tremendously to put us into EPA compliance,” Echelberry said.
Village of Perrysville
The village’s project to replace its old wastewater treatment plant began in 2017, said Mayor Heather Mullinex. She estimated the project to cost $3.4 million.
Th village took out a $1.2 million loan for the first phase of the project, which has been reflected in customers’ bills, Mullinex said.
“This award is amazing for us. We still needed $800,000 to finish this phase and this puts right up to the top,” she said.
Village of Polk
The village’s mayor, Don Foster, was absent on Thursday. Bittle said the $20,000 grant would pay for the community’s storm water integration engineering study.
Village of Savannah
The village’s lagoon sanitary system is in need of an additional lift station to serve a subdivision, said Mayor Tom Kruse.
“We thought we had a solution but the EPA, through our engineering firm, has informed us that the only proper way to handle it in the 34 lots would be to build an additional lift station,” he said.
The lift station would accommodate the new homes and also up to 60 other homes in the future.
“And keep the EPA happy — that’s not always easy,” he said, laughing.